The warming of the earth is one the biggest problems facing our nation and world today, and regardless of whether we agree or not on the causes of global warming there is an overwhelming consensus that the planet is warming. The causes of global warming are frequently debated between politicians and pundits on the news, however the overall scientific community have come to an agreement regarding those causes as well as the inherit dangers of global warming for life on Earth. To minimize damage to the environment and reverse the negative effects that mankind has had on the environment during our modern history, many governments have implemented renewable and green energies to generate power. Throughout the history of our planet, the average temperature of the Earth as well as the level of greenhouse gases as changed constantly; sometimes gradually other times sharply. However, for the past ten thousands year our planet has maintained an overwhelmingly stable climate. It wasn’t until these past fifty years that scientist began to realize that there has been high level of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, which as a result has made the past century the hottest in the last millennium.
This is because of the increase of greenhouse gasses now is double of what it has ever been in the past 650,000 year. This increase can be attributed to a number of things including deforestation. As the world’s appetite for wood, paper, and land to develop agriculture and housing for an exponentially increasing human population, increases our environment suffers. When forests are swept clean, and plants are destroyed they release stored carbon dioxide into the environment. Furthermore fewer trees mean that less carbon dioxide that can be converted into oxygen which means more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Another cause for this increase in surface temperature can be attributed to carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning power plants (Markham).Every year 7 billion tons of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere as a result of mankind’s dependence on electricity. As more and more people drive, use oil, coal, and gas to heat and power homes, more carbon dioxide is released which traps heats in our atmosphere (West).
This is because these greenhouse gases act as a mirror and reflect back heat radiation that would normally go into space. This known as the greenhouse effect, which could have devastating effects on our planets climate, and weather patterns, because as greenhouse level increase, the planet gets hotter. If these activities mentioned above continue to warm the earth, we could find ourselves at a point where we have reached an unstoppable and catastrophic warming of the Earth. The inherent dangers of the warming are numerous, as well as hazardous. One catastrophic effect of Global warming is an increase in sea levels worldwide (Merkham). This increase in sea level is a direct result of an increase in the melting of two major ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland (Merkham). The increase of sea level could have devastating effects on the livelihoods of millions of people across the world. Global Warming is causing the world’s tropical islands to be covered by more ocean water, which is drastically rising. The people to whom the islands are home are terrified by these events. Some are planning an attempt to move their country, by purchasing a new homeland for the loss of their previous one.
The finances are expected to be provided by the country’s tourism industry. This is just the beginning, as sea levels continue to rise, it will continue to affect more people, specifically in nations like India, the Philippines, Polynesia, the Netherlands, and Australia just to name a few (Peterka). The inherent dangers of global warming are not limited to a rising sea level; there are a plethora of other effects that could have a catastrophic effect on the planet. It is also important to note that the United States and other industrialized nations are not invulnerable to the effects of climate change and they can have just as much as an impact on us as undeveloped nations. For instance climate change could have numerous effects on North America, such as an increase of frequency of powerful hurricanes, and intense durations of heat waves (Jenkins). If you take a look around you, you can see the evidences for global warming all around you. For those of you who live in the United States, 2012 had the hottest recorded March in history according to the NOAA, with an average temperature of 42 degrees, six degrees above the average for that time of year (Kraisor).
Erratic weather events such as Hurricane Irene, which occurred in late August as well as the historic snow storm in October that dropped thirty inches of snow in some areas of the Northeast are no coincidence. These events are strong evidence of global warming, and if nothing is done about the escalating temperature of the planet weather phenomena such as these will continue. Shrinking sea ice, glaciers, and ice sheet are further evidence of global warming. Mountain ranges, in all areas of the world are experiencing the retreating of glaciers. The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in their extent and thickness. “Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost 150 to 250 cubic kilometers (36 to 60 cubic miles) of ice per year between 2002 and 2006, while Antarctica lost about 152 cubic kilometers (36 cubic miles) of ice between 2002 and 2005.”(Jenkins) Lastly, if you just look at the temperature of the planet over the past 30 years you have evidence that the earth is warming.
The twenty warmest years occurred since 1981, with the top ten warmest occurring in the past twelve years. With the earth surface temperature warming it is important that the governments of the world take charge in reversing the effects of global warming and stop it from progressing any farther. It is important that governments come together to agree to cap the amount of carbon dioxide being released as well put an end to deforestation and advocate forest growth. Governments must also implement new methods of power other than oil, coal, and gas, which release dangerous greenhouse gases. The only reverse the effects of global warming are to be aggressive. What the United States needs to do is reduce all carbon dioxide dramatically, just as the nation mobilized for war during World War II, our nation needs a wartime like response to global warming. The key to this reduction would be to end our dependency on coal and oil; currently there are plans to build dozens of coal plants in the next decade which will have the effect of releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We need rapid action to develop green sources of energy that would allow us to phase out of coal.
“If the United States could produce as much wind turbines at the same industrial urgency the US produced tanks and bombers in WWII, we could generate 3 million watts of wind power by 2020” ( Walsh). That amount of power is equal to approximately forty percent of the total energy needs for the entire planet. The United States has spent billions of dollars on a war in Iraq with a hidden agenda to secure oil interest, if we would have used all those resources toward investment in renewable energies not only would we have saved thousands of lives but we be more energy dependent than we are after fighting the war (Bilmes). To transition from using harmful forms of energy to clean renewable energy we would have to implement a tax, similar to taxes that have been implement on cigarettes, to discourage the consumption of oil and coal.
Not only will this make oil and coal more expensive which would encourage consumers to switch to alternative forms of energies but it will create revenues to invest and develop other forms of energy across the nation. States such as Maryland, Colorado, and California have already implemented and have been successful. If we could do this on a nationwide scale, we could have the adequate funds to invest into renewable energies and completely wean of coal within the next few decades like other nation like France, Denmark, and Germany where oil accounts for less than 13% of their energy production. Currently oil accounts for 40% of our energy production. It is important that we take action now, to preserve for future generations with what generations before have left us, and if don’t and we continue the path that we are on now, we will ultimately reach a point of no return.